Breiðafjörður to the west of Iceland is adorned with islands and islets, skerries and pillars. A few of them have been inhabited throughout the centuries and even today some of them are being utilized as farmland and nesting sites for eider ducks. Only one island, Flatey, is still inhabited. It has between five and ten permanent inhabitants, but during summer population increases considerably. In 1942 Flatey (The Flat Island) carried 120 inhabitants going about their daily lives, farming and fishing. But, times change and so do people's priorities. During the next twenty years, nearly all the inhabitants moved away. Living in Flatey was considered not too cool. Of course, no one could sell the island properties. They were simply left to rot.
But, as we know the tides are constantly turning. Suddenly, in the 1970s Flatey became quite the rave. Everyone wanted to visit. Gradually, property owners returned to renovate their houses. The old hotel was spruced up and reopened. Ever since everything has been upwardly. And Flatey is most certainly worth the visit. It possesses an extraordinary atmosphere and an ethereal stillness.
The island is merely two kilometers long, and its width is less than one kilometer. Cars are prohibited on the island, which has only one gravel road leading from the ferry dock through the old village. The village consists of several beautifully restored old houses, a hotel with a very decent restaurant, a church, and a library. And this remote library holds one of Iceland's greatest treasures: Flateyjarbók, Iceland's largest medieval manuscript.
To get to Flatey, you simply board the Baldur ferry in Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula or at Brjánslækur on the south coast of the Westfjords.